By Elmer Lyle Jones
I was born June 7, 1920 Ottawa County, Kansas and nearly departed this world June 6, 1942 in the deep, deep water of the Pacific Ocean after the Battle of Midway.
I was the last of four children and my mother died when I was just six years old; my oldest sister was twelve. Believe me we were dirt poor. I heard a man say they were as poor as church mice and I told him that was nothing, the church mice brought us care packages. But, my father managed to keep us together and got us through high school during the terrible depression and horrible dust storms.
After graduating high school in Minneapolis, Kansas, there was not much to look forward to in the future. The economy had picked up a little by 1939 but not much. One of my classmates told me he heard I was a pretty good tractor driver and of course, not being the bashful type, I told him I was the best. He said his dad told him if I would help them harvest the wheat I could stay and help with the plowing and reseeding the next crop. That sounded real good, but the last day of harvest the old man told me that he and his son talked it over and they guessed they could put the wheat in by themselves.
Instead, when I got to town, I went right in and signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Dad was not too pleased when I told him about it. In less than a week, I was in the C.C.C. camp at Marysville, Kansas. I wish to state right here, that was one of the most hard-working organizations I was ever connected with and I really enjoyed it. One day my barracks mate was reading the local paper and looked at me and said,"Jones, the Navy recruiting officer will be here next Thursday. Let’s go down and join.” Now, I only weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. I had never even seen a body of water bigger than the county lake.